My Personal Journey to Loving Nature
My grandmother was the person who instilled in me the importance of animals and plants to one’s life. She lived alone on the farm (my grandfather had long abandoned her though she waited for him until she died). But she never considered herself to be alone. She had a bear who lived on the farm with her and protected her from harm. Three crows lived there also and could sing like her canary, Billy Boy. And Billy Boy could make sounds like a crow. All babies when my grandmother befriended them, they learned one another’s language.
It seemed natural to me that all creatures would understand and care for one another. I grew up constantly surprising my mother with the variety of injured creatures I brought home and cared for; half drowned kittens, blue jays kids had shot with a BB gun, snails the neighbor tried to salt to death, dogs with broken legs.
I built a garden in an empty lot at the age of eight. It was in an empty lot. Based on that experience, I have written a children’s book, In the Garden, about the importance of growing vegetables in a child’s life.
As a teenager, I was lucky enough to enjoy summer week-ends in a trailer in the deep woods of Northern Saskatchewan. There, I shared a salt lick with a mother moose and her baby. I sat for hours by a stream watching beavers build a dam. I photographed an eagle who nested near our spot. I befriended a doe who took apples from my hand.
Week days, in the city, I fell in love with the milkman’s horse, Tom. Novella, Maria Kat, tells the story of this love affair.
None of that seemed out of the ordinary. None of that seemed odd.
As an adult, I brought nature into my work as a high school teacher, as a university professor, as a writer.
As an aging woman, I turned to a garden to rejuvenate my life and created Hyla, a botanical garden in the rain forests of Washington. (see Hylagardens.com) (see my gardening book, Crazy for Trees)
As a woman recovering from a serious surgery, I turned to horses for healing and strength. And here my story of history stops and my story of life in the present begins.